Category Archives: Science-related issues

Stand up to bigotry, even from your own!

Not too long ago (18th August to be exact) something out of the ordinary happened. On my way home on the bus a ‘black’ lady, I’d guess in her early 20s, was getting harrassed by a ‘black’ guy, maybe early-mid 30s, who kept walking back and forth up the bus. Let’s call him Dumbshit. Continue reading Stand up to bigotry, even from your own!


The purpose of (male) circumcision

(Disclaimer: this post won’t go into much depth on the origins of circumcision. That’s too lengthy a discussion and can be read about on Wiki. My focus is on its purpose in Judaism, which by proxy explains its purpose in Christianity and Islam)

Continue reading The purpose of (male) circumcision

Fair skin doesn’t do shit for vit D levels

(Reposted from’s-barrier-set-northern-europeans-apart)

In Human Evolution, Changes in Skin’s Barrier Set Northern Europeans Apart

UCSF Study Questions Role of Skin Pigment in Enabling Survival at Higher Latitudes


A microscopic image of skin cells.


The popular idea that Northern Europeans developed light skin to absorb more UV light so they could make more vitamin D – vital for healthy bones and immune function – is questioned by UC San Francisco researchers in a new study published online in the journal Evolutionary Biology.

Ramping up the skin’s capacity to capture UV light to make vitamin D is indeed important, according to a team led by Peter Elias, MD, a UCSF professor of dermatology. However, Elias and colleagues concluded in their study that changes in the skin’s function as a barrier to the elements made a greater contribution than alterations in skin pigment in the ability of Northern Europeans to make vitamin D.

Elias’ team concluded that genetic mutations compromising the skin’s ability to serve as a barrier allowed fair-skinned Northern Europeans to populate latitudes where too little ultraviolet B (UVB) light for vitamin D production penetrates the atmosphere.

Among scientists studying human evolution, it has been almost universally assumed that the need to make more vitamin D at Northern latitudes drove genetic mutations that reduce production of the pigment melanin, the main determinant of skin tone, according to Elias.

“At the higher latitudes of Great Britain, Scandinavia and the Baltic States, as well as Northern Germany and France, very little UVB light reaches the Earth, and it’s the key wavelength required by the skin for vitamin D generation,” Elias said.

“While it seems logical that the loss of the pigment melanin would serve as a compensatory mechanism, allowing for more irradiation of the skin surface and therefore more vitamin D production, this hypothesis is flawed for many reasons,” he continued. “For example, recent studies show that dark-skinned humans make vitamin D after sun exposure as efficiently as lightly-pigmented humans, and osteoporosis – which can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency – is less common, rather than more common, in darkly-pigmented humans.”

Furthermore, evidence for a south to north gradient in the prevalence of melanin mutations is weaker than for this alternative explanation explored by Elias and colleagues.

In earlier research, Elias began studying the role of skin as a barrier to water loss. He recently has focused on a specific skin-barrier protein called filaggrin, which is broken down into a molecule called urocanic acid – the most potent absorber of UVB light in the skin, according to Elias. “It’s certainly more important than melanin in lightly-pigmented skin,” he said.

In their new study, the researchers identified a strikingly higher prevalence of inborn mutations in the filaggrin gene among Northern European populations. Up to 10 percent of normal individuals carried mutations in the filaggrin gene in these northern nations, in contrast to much lower mutation rates in southern European, Asian and African populations.

Moreover, higher filaggrin mutation rates, which result in a loss of urocanic acid, correlated with higher vitamin D levels in the blood. Latitude-dependent variations in melanin genes are not similarly associated with vitamin D levels, according to Elias. This evidence suggests that changes in the skin barrier played a role in Northern European’s evolutionary adaptation to Northern latitudes, the study concluded.

Yet, there was an evolutionary tradeoff for these barrier-weakening filaggrin mutations, Elias said. Mutation bearers have a tendency for very dry skin, and are vulnerable to atopic dermatitis, asthma and food allergies. But these diseases have appeared only recently, and did not become a problem until humans began to live in densely populated urban environments, Elias said.

The Elias lab has shown that pigmented skin provides a better skin barrier, which he says was critically important for protection against dehydration and infections among ancestral humans living in sub-Saharan Africa. But the need for pigment to provide this extra protection waned as modern human populations migrated northward over the past 60,000 years or so, Elias said, while the need to absorb UVB light became greater, particularly for those humans who migrated to the far North behind retreating glaciers less than 10,000 years ago.

The data from the new study do not explain why Northern Europeans lost melanin. If the need to make more vitamin D did not drive pigment loss, what did? Elias speculates that, “Once human populations migrated northward, away from the tropical onslaught of UVB, pigment was gradually lost in service of metabolic conservation. The body will not waste precious energy and proteins to make proteins that it no longer needs.”

For the Evolutionary Biology study, labeled a “synthesis paper” by the journal, Elias and co-author Jacob P. Thyssen, MD, a professor at the University of Copenhagen, mapped the mutation data and measured the correlations with blood levels of vitamin D. Labs throughout the world identified the mutations. Daniel Bikle, MD, PhD, a UCSF professor of medicine, provided expertise on vitamin D metabolism.

The research was funded by the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and by a Lundbeck Foundation grant.

UCSF is the nation’s leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.






Why we should all be left-handed!

…Or at least ambidextrous.

This afternoon I just worked out The Answer™ to why most world cultures revere the right hand so much!

According to modern neuroscience, the 2 hemispheres of the brain have specialised functions. The left side is associated with reason, order, sense of reality & academic intelligence, and controls the right side of the body. The right hemisphere is associated with personal insight, sense of possibility, individuality & creativity, and controls the left side of the body. We also know about biofeedback, which basically says the rest of the body influences brain function just as much as the brain controls it. This means that using the left hand activates the brain’s right hemisphere and vice versa.


¿Why is this important?

Say you’re a ruler of a nation (legitimacy irrelevant) and you want people to obey your laws. Problem: these people are already happy with their own principles & traditions, and their religions are multi-faceted, experiential and prioritise different things to you, so why the bloodclaat should they wanna obey you? And since they outnumber you, how could you make them obey you?

Answer: change their behaviour so they automatically conform! If you’ve paid enough attention to people’s behaviour, you’ll have noticed that certain actions develop/ activate certain ways of being (biofeedback). One of those might be, oh I don’t know, using the left hand activates the same side of the brain that governs individuality! And since right-hand use activates the other side of the brain – the side that acquiesces to logic and order (i.e. your laws) – why not institute a tradition that reveres right-handedness?


Use the right hand for everything: eating, drinking, greeting, lifting, sawing wood, ploughing fields, reading holy books, all that jazz! And just for good measure, reserve the left hand for unpleasant activities like wiping your ass (bare-handed in the case of early Muslims at least)!

Of course that won’t be the whole solution. Suppressing certain forms of sexuality and worship would certainly go into the mix, but controlling people’s handedness could play a subtle yet ridiculously powerful role. And you might want to keep that going by, let’s say, encoding right-hand reverence in religion and culture – and “righting” those who don’t conform.

Maybe even have them earn less money, for reasons beyond your control of course.


Then hundreds or thousands of years pass, and for the most part people have been successfully programmed into activating their orderly uncreative left hemisphere. You’re one of them, but you’re disillusioned now. You want to make a physical change in your life because it feels shit. You read all these self-help books and tapes and the rest that talk about changing your spiritual state first.

What if, at least for some, that doesn’t work?

What if action & behaviour needs to be changed before any spiritual change can happen?

What kind of change could be made? And what kind of feedback would that give your brain…?


Theological musings part 5

It’s now been over three and a half years since I became a murtadd (ex-Muslim). Once again my perspectives on life have shifted and rearranged.


This is what I believed in back in Part 3:

    • Happiness is the most important goal in life. I reckon Epicurus was on the right lines on how to attain it (though his book is fucking long & boring!!!)
    • All religions are ritualised attempts to meet that goal. Not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we remember that’s all they are and we’re smart enough to accept they work for some and not for others. Unfortunately most religionists aren’t
    • To disbelieve in Divinity just because of the existence of evil & suffering is a cop-out. Divinity is not responsible for evil & suffering, WE ARE! It’s our shit so we clean it up! To be honest I made this conclusion when I was a Muslim but out of my own thinking not from Islam
    • Without exception all religions are a mix of good and shit in differing proportions
    • In the words of Agent Six from Generator Rex, “Know what you want and make it happen. No excuses.”
    • Prioritise this life over any life after death. We know this exists, we can only believe in the hereafter unless & until it happens. If it happens deal with it then. Besides, if the Abrahamic faiths are right, our conduct in this life determines our place in the hereafter so this is still more important
    • Total certainty that we have free will and are therefore co-creators of our own destiny. I say co-creators because other factors influence our destiny as well, e.g. upbringing, language, education, time & place, bodily health/ disability. Predetermination only sets a likely range of paths based on destinies created beforehand, it doesn’t exclude the possibility of new destinies
    • I have the right to address the divinity in any way I want. If I want to be grateful for something I’m happy about, I can. If I want to be effing & blinding ’cause I don’t like something that just happened to me, I can. Yes, I’m saying it’s alright to swear at ‘God’. It’s alright, It can take it
    • Just like religion, gender roles are inventions of human societies. They’re subject to change and can be adopted as-is, inverted, reinvented or ignored as and when it suits an individual
    • Gratitude that I’m not normal
    • Progress only gets made through bold actions. Any mistakes that happen therefrom will be rectified by more bold actions
    • Decisions don’t have to be made with full knowledge. They don’t have to be exactly “the right decision” either. Information can be gathered along the way, and decisions can be changed along the way
    • Law of Attraction
    • Islam is an inherently anti-racist religion. However, that hasn’t stopped Muslims being racist, in the past or now. Even Muhammad’s own grandkids were racially abused for being pure ‘black’ Arabs as opposed to ‘white’ Turks!
    • Regarding sex, mutual pleasure is more important than procreation. If a couple has children via unhappy intercourse, those children likely won’t grow up emotionally functional
    • Justice is spelt R-E-V-E-N-G-E. Revenge is spelt J-U-S-T-I-C-E.
    • Human understanding of divinity is heavily influenced by major historical events, but most especially by our own desires and psychological need for love & protection. There’s also the fact that we ‘need’ to see it as like us. That’s why all religions’ gods have human features like eyes, hands, feet, mouth, etc.
    • Ieshua (Jesus) was a bog-standard normal man. Nothing more, nothing less. Same with all other so-called prophets and demi-gods
    • Heaven & paradise are two different things. Heaven is the sky and outer space, paradise is the way Earth was and is meant to be

The update:

  • (Reminder of something I learned years ago) Emotions are reactions to stimuli. You cannot just be sad, you can only be sad at something. You cannot just be happy, you can only be happy at something. That can be the smell of a honeysuckle, the sight of sunrise, a paper cut, a funeral or just imagining a future possibility, doesn’t matter because the brain and endocrine system react regardless. Therefore it makes sense to be happy by just doing things and putting yourself in environments you know you like. However…
  • Splitting up with my girlfriend has made me understand probably the most important thing in my life: I have never loved myself. I get the concept but I’ve never experienced it. Whether it’s active hatred & criticism or calm neutrality, the effect is identical. I need to be doggedly biased in my own favour and feel the love, to be happy just at who I am regardless of what I do or accomplish.
  • Since a few months ago I also recognise this lack of love as an injury to my brain. From that point my brain automatically set itself to remember each and every such injury in my entire life and  heal them one by one. There could be very literally a million, like a blanket of barbed wire wrapped around my brain, but I’m on my way to healing the root of them all.
  • Instead of focusing on divinity as being outside and independent of me, I’m now finding it helpful to focus on the god within me. Or in this case gods – 2 of them, one female, one male. Yes that means they have humanoid forms but I don’t have to worship them; they’re here to help me.

(Though the male one can be a bit of a bastard. I’m not backbiting, I tell him to his face! LOL.

And I swear he looks familiar…)

Bastard! Don’t try and make out like you’ve never seen me before!
  • Yahweh and Allah are in a sense both 2 different gods and one & the same. How? The original Jews were polytheists and Yahweh was just one god among many in their pantheon – a god of war, funnily enough. The leader was called El, from which the name Allah is ultimately derived. However, after returning home from the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC the Jews collated all the attributes of the different gods into this one Yahweh, making some of their names (including El) alternatives for him and thereby making him supreme. Then they took it further and did away with all the other gods, claiming Yahweh is and always was the one and only! So the root of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is polytheistic, a fact they’ve all kept hidden for thousands of years. In other words, monotheism is just polytheism being ashamed of itself!


  • My understanding of love & relationships has been FAR too limited. That’s not my fault, that’s due to Western media & the English language itself. It’s well documented that language influences comprehension and perception. Ancient Greeks, on the other hand, categorised different forms of love:









(Taken from

Western films & TV series promote the idea that most to all of these forms can be found in a sexual partner. This is patently wrong. I’ve therefore decided to develop other forms, especially philautia. It is my new religion, if you will.

Based on that I’ve decided it’s time to truly love my uniqueness. Not just like or appreciate, love – my introspection, my thirst for learning, my lust for action, my distaste for recreational drugs, my anti-conventional views, my creativity, etc. Right now the most loving things I can do for myself are eat my fill of food every day and write a new piece – poem, story, film script, theatre script, whatever!

  • Furthermore, I’ve been under the impression that eros is the best type of love and the basis of a functioning relationship. This impression came from the sex-obsessed Western media and sensually deprived culture, but also from Islam ironically! The diyn commands marriage and kids (therefore sex), yet forbids physical touch or social interaction between the sexes beforehand. Bloody hell they’re not that different after all!
Fuck you Tawny! I’m going to hunt you down, and build a wall round you, then bomb Syria – again!
  • Defining myself as an ex-Muslim is starting to feel boring. You can’t talk about apostasy without talking about what you apostatised from, which for me would mean keeping the diyn at the front of my mind. But I’ve outgrown it, which entails thinking about more important and interesting things.
  • It’s time to start reigning in my anti-spirituality. My intention in becoming materialistic was to counterbalance my overdeveloped spiritual & philosophical instincts. However, it’s pointlessly hard maintaining my standards when trying to get ahead in fields where others set the standards. There’s nothing wrong with having material goals and dreams (e.g. becoming a multi-millionaire), the problem comes from forcing yourself to achieve them in ways that don’t align with your true desires, ways that other people define for you and present as The Way – which is no different from conventional religion. Plans should serve desires, not the other way around.
  • I finally accept that people do care about me. In childhood I always believed that nobody misses me when I’m gone, but fucking hell was I wrong! People actually notice both when I’m there and when I’m not, and wonder where I’ve been! What a pleasant surprise!
  • I have been astoundingly blind to how physically attractive I am. As a kid I knew I was good-looking but didn’t care because I found (almost) everyone on Earth good-looking so what made me different? Not to mention “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But on road a lot of women and even men (¿!?¡¿!) find it hard to keep their eyes off me. I used to think it was because they were assessing how far I am from their bags so they can keep enough distance – yes ‘white’ and Asian women I do notice. I notice before you even do it. But that may not have been the case as often as I thought…
  • Still not changing my taste in women though.




  • Still situationist, fallible and liable to change without notice.

2017 is going to be an interesting year.